Two years ago, we gathered in the Graduation Garden to dedicate a plaque in our most sacred space to our first African-American graduate, Erselle Datcher Porter '68, and to all the other trailblazing students and faculty who have helped to make Bryn Mawr the diverse and vibrant community that we are today. While our founders weren't able to agree on the importance of equity and inclusivity, we have said many times since that The Bryn Mawr School of today believes firmly in the dignity of all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or socioeconomic status. We attest to this clearly in our mission statement. We aspire to be a place for all girls to find their voice, to imagine their potential and to transcend any limits society imposes.
At this time, I think it's important to call out specifically that Black lives matter to us. Black children, Black families, Black alumnae, Black educators and Black employees are valued and cherished as part of our Bryn Mawr family. As a leading educational institution in Baltimore, we have a responsibility to affirm this in a time when much of what is happening across the nation calls it into question.
Three years ago we commissioned a history project to examine our roots as a school. We named the racism, anti-Semitism, and classism upon which this school was built, and committed to acknowleding our full past and learning from it. Over the 135 years since our founding, much has changed, yet especially given the events of the last few weeks, we cannot deny that the legacy of oppression remains for many people of color in this country, even at well-intentioned schools like Bryn Mawr.
It isn't enough to have good intentions right now. We are committed to becoming an anti-racist institution and that commitment requires community action. Over the summer, the Community, Equity and Inclusion committee of the Board of Trustees and our new Senior Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Practice (announcement coming soon!) will create a structure and timeline for our action steps. This will include:
- Setting benchmarks and identifying innovative strategies for hiring faculty of color
- Improving funding for professional development for faculty and staff
- Providing opportunities for ongoing parent and alumnae engagement
- Examining our PreK-12 curriculum for a more inclusive pedagogy
- Ensuring that each child at our school knows without a doubt that she matters
We know that this commitment improves Bryn Mawr for all students. I want to thank all of you who have participated over the last two weeks to help us move forward as a community. Whether you joined the Community Conversation last week or did your own personal reading and reflection, your participation matters. You have already begun to make Bryn Mawr a better place by opening your hearts and minds to hear each other's stories. Throughout this summer will continue to provide opportunities for our community to come together to turn our intentions into action.
Two upcoming opportunities:
- Wednesday, June 24: Upper School Director Dr. Nicole Hood and Cynthia West P '19, '23 will lead a new Black Parent Affinity Group for Bryn Mawr parents at 7 p.m. Please email Dr. Hood if you are interested in joining this virtual gathering.
- Tuesday, June 30: Alumnae and parents are invited to join Head of School Sue Sadler and Bryn Mawr administrators from 7-8 p.m. for learning, introspection and conversation on anti-racism in our schools and communities. Please register here for this virtual gathering.
The most valuable action we can take as a school is to provide the education, programming and platforms for our community to come together, work together, and together, lead with courage and integrity. Thank you for being a part of this important work toward racial justice.
Head of School